Prophecy and Revelation – Christianity in the United States

Prophecy and Revelation

Beliefs and Practices of Pentecostalism

In the context of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, prophecy and revelation are important aspects of belief and practice. These are understood as part of the “spiritual gifts” (charismata) mentioned in the New Testament, which are believed to be distributed by the Holy Spirit to believers.

Prophecy: In the biblical context, prophecy often involved forth-telling (speaking God’s word to the present situation) and foretelling (predicting future events). In Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions, prophecy is usually seen as a form of forth-telling. It is viewed as a spontaneous, Spirit-led utterance that is intended to edify, exhort, and comfort the community of believers (as described in 1 Corinthians 14:3). Prophecy in this context might offer encouragement, instruction, warning, or revelation of God’s purposes. It’s generally seen as subordinate to Scripture and should be evaluated in light of biblical teaching.

Revelation: In Christian theology, revelation generally refers to how God discloses Himself and His will to humanity. For many Christians, this occurs primarily through the Bible, and secondarily through the natural world and human reason. In Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, however, revelation may also be understood in a more immediate and personal sense. The Holy Spirit is believed to reveal specific insights, wisdom, or knowledge to believers—this could include insights about one’s personal life, direction for a church community, or understanding of current events in light of God’s purposes.

There are, however, important cautions and qualifications to consider:

  1. Testing and Discernment: The New Testament encourages believers to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1) and to weigh and discern prophecies (1 Corinthians 14:29). Not every claim to prophecy or revelation is accepted at face value.
  2. Authority: Prophecies and revelations are generally not seen as having the same level of authority as the Bible. While they can provide guidance and insight, they should not contradict or supersede biblical teaching.
  3. Variation in Beliefs and Practices: There’s a considerable diversity in how prophecy and revelation are understood and practiced within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Some groups might have a strong emphasis on these practices, while others might approach them more cautiously.
  4. Potential for Abuse: Like any spiritual practice, prophecy and revelation can be misused or manipulated, and there have been instances of false or harmful prophecies. These risks underline the importance of discernment, accountability, and biblical grounding.

The belief in ongoing prophecy and revelation is part of what distinguishes Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity from some other Christian traditions. It reflects a belief in a God who is not only transcendent but also immanent and actively involved in the lives of believers.